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Marrakech: June 2011 - Part 1

We arrived in Marrakech on Saturday evening, following our afternoon flight direct from Edinburgh. After customs taking forever, and another stamp in my new passport, we found our taxi driver that had been arranged through our riad. He dropped us off at a parking area near to our riad {no cars are allowed within the Medina} then he asked a young boy to direct us to the door. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was literally only five seconds away from where we had been dropped off so there was no real need for a guide, especially when we then had to give him some money for carrying my suitcase!

For the first three nights we stayed in the Medina in the Riad Marrabahia. Although it had 8 rooms arranged around the central courtyard with the pool, we were the only guests staying. The room was lovely and had everything we needed.

After we had got settled it was quite late so we asked for directions for somewhere to eat and were directed to Kosybar for our first taste of Moroccan cuisine. We ate on the rooftop terrace where you got a lovely view over the square and the storks on the ramparts of the Badii palace. They had run out of the quail & cous cous I really wanted so I tried their fish tagine instead while Graham had beef kebabs. Both were ok but it was definitely a tourist place with prices to match so we weren't too impressed.

Our breakfast the next morning was served on the roof top terrace and was delicious; since we were the only guests we had asked for it at 9am. The breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, yogurt, tea, coffee, fresh orange juice and pancakes with syrup & jam. I made the effort to get dressed the first morning but ended up staying in my pyjamas for the next two mornings.

Once we were dressed, we set off to explore the city and made our way to the Bahia Palace. The palace was undergoing restoration in some parts but we were able to go around most of it. Its richly decorated everywhere with lots of painted cedarwood, stucco and stained glass panels.

Then it was time to walk towards the main square, a hive of activity at all times of the day. During our walk motorbikes and mopeds flew past us squeezing through every space imaginable.


From there we walked towards the Koutoubia Mosque and went into the gardens in search of some much needed shade.

We had our first taste of the souks, a maze of loads and loads of shops, people and more motorbikes. We found the best way to ignore the sellers was to keep our sunglasses on and keep walking!

By then it was absolutely boiling and I was in need of a seat so we found a lovely little place, the Cafe des Epices, for a drink and a sandwich in a small square in the midst of the souks. Maps are fairly useless in the souks so it took us a while to find the square on our map and discover which direction we had come from.

We continued walking through the souks right up to the Musee de Marrakech, located inside the Dar Menebhi Palace; unfortunately all the exhibit text was in french but it was nice to just look inside, especially at the tiling and the massive lamp in the main hall, have a seat and get out of the heat.

We bought a triple ticket at the museum which also allowed access to the Medersa Ben Youssef, a richly decorated former Koranic school.


The third item on our ticket was the Koubba Ba'adyin, one of the oldest cupolas in the city. We didn't look around for long since it was so hot in the sun.

After a quick stop for yet another drink of water, we headed back to main square then back to riad to have a rest before getting ready for a late dinner. Later on we headed towards the main square to see it at night and found a restaurant which was recommended in my guide; I tried harira soup and a chicken tagine with cous cous, both of which were delicious.

At night the main square is full of stalls selling food, all trying to entice you in. We didn't actually eat at any of the stalls as we had been warned by our riad owners mother to be wary unless you could see that it had been properly cooked. While we would have usually tried something, since I was not even 8 weeks pregnant we decided not to risk it.

We definitely underestimated how much our usual city walking & sightseeing pattern coupled with the heat would affect me being pregnant and the next morning, after getting up for breakfast {although I didn't get dressed}, I had to go back to bed for another sleep.

When we finally made it out around lunchtime we took it easy and walked towards the tinsmiths square then the Koutoubia Mosque to find somewhere for lunch. Desperate for a drink by the time we arrived at the mosque we found the first cafe for a seat then moved to another to have some lunch.

Afterwards we walked a little further to the ensemble artisanal which is a collection of shops selling authentic goods but at a fixed price. You didn't get any hassle like in the souks so it was much easier to look around. I found myself something to hang on our Christmas tree {not an actual decoration} and a couple of postcards.

Determined to see a little more of the city we walked to one of the main city gates, the largest one Bab Agnaou, where there were loads of storks nesting on the walls.

The gate led us to the Saadian tombs which we explored before heading back to the riad.

Once back at the riad we enjoyed a dip in the pool before getting ready for dinner. The water in the pool was really warm but it still felt cold compared to the outside temperature of over 100!


We headed back to the main square for dinner, but this time chose a pizza restaurant we had been recommended, which overlooked the busy square.


On our last morning in the city we did some some shopping and I got myself a pair of slippers, a scarf and the required magnet. We managed to haggle a bit for the slippers and scarf but it wasn't worth it for the magnet which was only 15dh (about £1.15) to begin with! It did get to the point where you felt you were arguing over pennies with the other items but I ended up paying around £8 each for the scarf and slippers.

We felt that three days was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city, and while there were some other things we could have seen, we had definitely seen enough. There is probably only so long you could put up with their frantic way of life as it was not a calm and peaceful city to walk around in. If we ever go back we would probably go at a cooler time of year, maybe April or October would be perfect, as 100+ degrees was very hot to walk around in.

Our riad then called us a taxi to take us to our next hotel...


  1. Wow, I can only imagine how hot you must have felt! It looks like a great place to see, though. I love Moroccan food and would love to travel there someday!

  2. We went to the Kosybar too and had the best food we had in the whole trip (we are both vegetarian, and it was pretty difficult to find anything other than cous-cous and vegetables, but Kosybar had a wide range. It was also the only place we found selling beer!

    We also went to Cafe des Epices a few times! We also ate the street food on the first night, but as we're both veggie then there's less danger of getting ill!

  3. I wanted to go after our chat about your trip, and I want to go even more now. It looks amazing!

  4. Think I'd be knackered after days like that so being pregnant I'm not surprised you needed a break. Especially in that heat. Sounds like a brilliant trip though. Looking forward to the next update.

  5. The place looks incredible! It has always been on my to go list, hopefully one day!!


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